Conflicting Cultures in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land

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Conflicting Cultures in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land Novels that illustrate a confrontation between disparate cultures provide particularly straightforward insights into basic human behavior. Characters confronted with a cultural conflict must explore basic human commonalities to breach the gap between the cultures. In doing so, one diminishes the differences between her culture and the unknown culture, ultimately bringing her closer to her raw humanity. Simultaneously, this sets the stage for countless sociological case studies that may illuminate important human behaviors that are otherwise masked by the bias of a dominating culture. A prime subject for one such examination is Mona Chang, a natural-born American who strives to overcome the cultural pressure posed by her Chinese immigrant parents so that she may be accepted by her peers. Appearing in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land, Chang finds herself in a situation that tests her identity as an American. The test, occurring in her adolescence, proves inconclusive. In turn, it motivates Chang to affirm her identity at the expense of her maturity-a struggle that continues until she overcomes the factor that initially questioned her identity. Thus, the cultural backdrop of Jen's Mona in the Promised Land provides an excellent basis to study the human character, from which one may infer that an incident that causes identity confusion in one's adolescent life must be resolved before one may reach maturity. In Chang's case, her oriental appearance pairs her with Sherman Matsumoto, the newest ad... ... middle of paper ... ... one must rely primarily upon the text itself as well as interviews with Jen. Although few scholarly resources are available with pertinence to this novel, it is not difficult to make a substantial argument for the aforementioned themes. Naturally, those themes apply only to adolescents who have not yet matured fully from a psychological perspective. In conclusion, the cultural clash in Jen's Mona in the Promised Land allows one to discern easily that one must figuratively conquer that which troubles her sense of identity lest her maturity remain underdeveloped. Works Cited April Guest: Gish Jen. McDougal Littell Page. 1999. <>. Jen, Gish. Mona in the Promised Land. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1997.

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